Today is the first day of term proper, and so us members of staff (together with those students with nothing else better to do during the tail end of their summer holidays who've been loitering around at a loose end) are having to adapt back to the pavements of the 3 main streets that the University squats upon in this part of London being swelled by the 17,000 or so arriving and returning students.
The bus I catch into work in the morning passes by one of the further flung sets of student digs out in Camden Town, and so this morning the bus pulled over as they all piled onboard. Quite what they were doing up and about at 8.40am I don't know. There was something funny looking about them which merited further inspection. After a while I placed it.
"Ah yes," I thought, "Vibrant youth."
The eyes were bright and the faces were fresh in that but-still-prone-to-acne-now-and-again way. Clothes looked new and as if some care had been taken over their selection that morning, as opposed to being what was on the floor and smelt least like old vegetables.
I stopped scrutinising them when I realised they were still at the meeting-people's-gaze-and-smiling stage. It made me feel most perturbed: this is London after all, and any contact with fellow passengers on public transport should be restricted to a muttered "sorry" as you have your toes trod on or your bag sat upon. They'll learn.
Not wanting to be mistaken for a fellow student, I stared blankly at my lap and listened in on the countless and unnecessarily loud "where are you from?" "what are you studying?" identikit conversations which were taking place around me. A rather glum looking Singaporean lad sat next to and thankfully didn't seem interested in making chit-chat: I was in no mood to tell him how I did in my A-levels or which of the Freshers' Nights I would be attending. Indeed, I'm very doubtful that the vodka and lemonade-fuelled beach party themed marathon Eddie and I took part in back in October 2000 could ever be matched, and in all honesty I'm quite glad to have left those days - where taking a Tactical Chunder was an integral part of any night out considered half decent - behind me.
I look forward to watching their deterioration in numbers, appearance and spirit over the next month or so as the reality of late nights, alcoholic overindulgence and everyday monotony takes hold.
4 weeks ago